Swim Magazine

What is the best training equipment for serious swimmers?

One of the joys of swimming is that it doesn’t need a lot of equipment – all you really need is a towel and a swimsuit. But if you’re serious about the sport, there are plenty of aids to help you get the best out of your time in the water. Let’s run through some of the best swimming gear on the market…
Words: Jonathan Harwood
Picture: Shutterstock

What swimwear is essential?

You can pay hundreds for a top-of-the-range hydrodynamic swimsuit, but all you need is something streamlined and chlorine-resistant. Speedo’s Endurance range for men and women fits the bill and won’t break the bank. 

When buying goggles, considerations include the nose bridge (fixed or adjustable), frame (silicon is standard except in Swedish-style goggles), and straps and lenses (which can be tinted to aid visibility). It’s worth testing different styles – but Kaiman’s Aqua Sphere range is well-priced, reliable and a good place to start. 

A cap protects your hair from chemicals, keeps it out of your and other swimmers’ faces, reduces drag and is vital for maintaining heat in cold water. Pool swimmers need look no further than the simple silicone caps from leading brands like Arena and Speedo.  

Earplugs can be very handy if you’re sensitive to pool chemicals, prone to ear infections or a cold water swimmer, as keeping freezing water out of the ear canal helps keep you warmer. There are plenty of specially designed – and cheap – swimming earplugs on the market that create a waterproof seal.

What swimming kit will help you develop your skills and improve your technique?

A kickboard helps improve balance and position in the water and shifts the focus to the kick – an often-overlooked area of technique. Kicking is hard work, so this also improves fitness. 

The traditional tombstone design is fine and offers the best buoyancy – ones with handles are available from brands such as Speedo, Arena and Zoggs. 

The cousin of the kickboard is the pull buoy, a foam buoyancy device shaped like a bell. It is held between the legs, raising the hips to take the kick out of the equation. This allows swimmers to focus on their arms and shoulders. Pull buoys can be fun to use and often increase your speed through the water.  

Fins help strengthen your legs and improve your kick, which will hone your overall technique. They are useful in open water as well as the pool. The downside is that they can cause blisters if they don’t fit well. Choosing a silicon model with a strap rather than a boot, such as the Arena Powerfin, can help. 

One essential piece of kit for serious outdoor swimmers is a tow float. These have several uses, most related to safety. The brightly coloured airbags are attached to swimmers’ waists and float behind them, making the wearer more visible to other water users and those on shore. Their buoyancy means they do not create drag and, importantly, they can be held on to during a break in swimming or in an emergency.